Jerome's incomprehensible but improving...
Monday, April 12, 2004
Spent Thursday at Tita's house in Tagaytay.
- Reading sci-fi
Dom's books -- really good one by Larry Niven
Still couldn't beat Mark, but not a total washout
- Watching movies
We watched "The Passion" and "Duplex"
Homing calls me to work to fix an issue.
Got to diagnose it as a Windows authentication problem --> ergo I.T. problem --> ergo waste of trip to office.
Answered email while I was there. Sigh.
My bro has rediscovered DOS games (copies of which have always been latent in our HDD's ever since). DOSBox is a good emulator.
Got to play these games yet again:
- Privateer (well it runs, but not very playable. Too bad)
- Wing Commander (runs really good, just some tweaking with moslo)
- Zeliard (always a classic with me and Mark)
All right! Last day! Was really really late of course. Got to meet Mr. E on the way to the classroom.
We had good fun with tracing the basic algorithms. I managed to teach my problem domain tips quite well. They seemed to enjoy my quiz too.
Got to share quite a number of things with them after class:
- Windows Really Good Edition (Win RG)
- Lateral thinking stuff: the Penguin Soup story and the Naked Dead Man w/ Matchstick story. I left them hanging with the Stranger at Funeral story.
I still owed them their slides at this point.
I had to rush my TW application within the day. They wanted me to leave ASAP (no, not that kind of leaving!) before the long vacation.
A congrats from Ico ("Hey you're going to Taiwan!"). Not getting to hopeful. Remembering my last 2 trips were cancelled (hence I've never been on a business trip c/o Trend.)
OK Mr Resourceful, let's get going:
- Got my ITR copy in desk drawer, luckily
- Got pics from Kodak store nearby, luckily
- Good thing my sis was still home, was leaving for the office. She dropped of my passport, luckily again
Er, should be Mr Lucky actually.
Holding things up was my pending invitation letter from TW.
Was getting really really late for JITSE training.
Finally just dispatched frantic emails and rushed off in a taxi.
Ate Tricia and Mark were playing Crimson Room, Mystery of Time and Space (MOTAS) and other adventure games Friday night. I wanted to play them whole day, but good sense crept into me and I left for the fireworks display.
I kept humming the MOTAS jazzy background tunes on the way.
Got to watch fireworks again at Manila Bay. China and Switzerland. Was a blast. Truly!
Sacha invited me to watch at their place with Ranulf, Eric. But I decided to go with my parents.
Ate asked me to take shots of the Nestle pushcart as the Swiss fireworks lit up the background (Swiss -- how fitting!). For Gerry's Powerpoint slides.
Pics at my website.
Was very very very late. I had to finish my slides, make my exercises. I also had to make some last-minute revisions to the exercises, etc. I got quite a number of blank stares during that session.
On the plus side, we had more of our talks on the way to Ayala. About OJT work and about taking the exams.
We met up with Bicol Room for our dev meeting. We had our usual popcorn and some snacks from Julie (nice!) and Maui was with us through the speakerphone.
Can't give too many details here, but it's enough to remember by to say it was a semi-status update, semi-rant, semi-cozy-chat-at-the-pantry kind of affair.
How can I forget! Mr. Srini (Srinivas)!
The CMMi lecture was all well and good. But some extra quality moments with Srini made it more worthwhile.
- He used to work with McDonalds, and fastfood is his ideal in terms of quality (well he likes the food too a bit it seems! Joke!) Lots of fastfood examples therefore.
- He has a very ("very very") effective way of lecturing. He will pause. Something like: "I pause at the end of every...sentence. So you will remember what I'm...saying."
- He called Lea "Guess Girl."
- Answering Randall: "I deserve that answer."
We would see him a couple of more times during March. I think we'll meet again as we go along. ("Very very good!")
Sunday, April 11, 2004
Yet another obsession for the month of March. Haven't been this much into anime since Ghost Fighter (yes, that way back.)
I watched Get Backers, GTO and some Chobits (couldn't quite catch the timeslot though.)
Amil and Ranulf were quite into Animax too. Amil was into GTO, then Get Backers in particular. My brother was easy to dismiss of the series with the weird name (strange Japanese Engrish!) I contentedly awaited each episode every 12:30 AM (watching GTO before at 12 while I was at it.)
With Get Backers, though, they did the old TV trick of not showing the last episode in a particularly exciting episode series (Makubex and Infinity City). After all those episodes! Ack, what a disappointment. Oh well.
Some thoughts on the campy little group of people which we've come to know as the Intranet team:
- Dev side OK, source code quite manageable
- QA thinks of the most outrageous things to wreck the program (which is good)
- Very orderly source control (a stern lesson from the project that was ODTS)
- We take our SCR's (bug tracker issues) very seriously. Mike and Julie
- Extensive wiki communication in Dev. May need to orient QA more on it, though
- Healthy discussions on tech design between me and Mike
- We're actually on schedule!
- Popcorn snacks! (We know how to take it lightly, once in a while.)
In short, we've got people who are committed, to the project, and to learning, standardizing processes.
Some can-do-better items:
- Better documentation, especially dev side. Some misunderstanding in testing and deployment are rooted in unclear details or instructions in docs
- More use of tools (like .NET versioning, for instance, or stress test).
It's a shame I've been lax in blogging recently. It's been one of those latent developments anyway, so it's not like I can connect it with a particular day.
We're growing. There's Mike, and Julie. And we have a lot of new faces from Sysgen like Me-ann, Eric, Adel, etc. I remember having a lunch with them at McDo. Apparently they know me from the MSDN forums! They're just silently listening in, similar to my status with respect to the PLUG mailing list. They've also seen JABE who's one of the more avid contributors to the MS forum. They're kind of waiting for the next Dev Days to get to meet more of the Pinoy Microsofties. I think we should have an eyeball sooner. Hmm, I need to commit a date for myself, for others to commit to, or else it might never happen.
Just chugging along...
Got to the iAcademy building quite early, before 6 PM. I got to read the Arlene Chai novel I bought quite some time back at Powerbooks with Ann Uy while waiting for some students. We started 6:30.
Was quite fun teaching them some of the programming tips I had for the "basic" stuff in my program tracing course. My "Starstruck" graphics problem tracing exercises were well-received, I would say. It got them excited into tracing the shapes in graphing paper.
My impression was the class was quite "kalog" and willing to learn, even though I noticed they still needed much exercise in following program logic. I walked with some of them on the way home, to the Ayala MRT station. Got to share some insights on specializing in computer science, and pursuing what one really likes to do. I also had a few corny jokes for them (wow they haven't heard my jokes before! A fresh audience!)
I frankly had not much progress on the JITSE slides and exercises. Managed to structure the discussion in the slides though, and with the high-level methodology on teaching program tracing done.
Basically program tracing can be broken down into several activities -- tracing variables, operations, loops, arrays, error handling, use of functions and modules, use of data structures and algorithms, and solving the problem domain. I just gave tips for most of these areas, and came up with some Java programs for the tracing exercises, as well as to verify my code (I don't trust even myself!) Was a good review of Eclipse while I was at it.
I slept really late Monday and Tuesday, around 2-3 AM on both days.
The international fireworks competition was in town again (we watched a similar event from the Senate building last year.) My Dad's poker friend actually designed the Philippine entry last time, as well as this year's.
Got to invite Sacha over. She brought Go-nuts Donuts with her (nice!) Her parents were there. I suppose her Dad got excellent pics. We also got to talk about a few things while watching and it was pretty enlightening to here some updates.
Turned out that we actually went to a VIP area -- we were personally invited by my Dad's friend. Presenters for the night were Canada and Mexico. Show was supposed to start 8PM but was delayed. So we only got to stay to watch Canada's show. Was spectacular in its own right, but kept hearing from the punters that Japan's display the day before was better. ("You could see it all the way to Buendia!") Then Tinsel got really cranky and we had to leave early.
We're not really pretty sure on Lolo's birthday date, since the records were burned down during the war. Could be between March 26 and 28, my parents tell me. We celebrate it on March 28, by custom.
We had a sumptuous meal at Causeway in Libis, ordering my Dad's favorite dimsum. Lolo again praised God for his long life and good health. Showed him the miracle of the digicam. He said he looked old in the picture! But he did not say this in an anxious way; he's the model of contentment, knowing that Jesus loves him and will watch over him as long as he's alive.
I have a queer pic of Mark in a "compromised" pose. Hehe.
Slept at Mark's again. Early morning, got a message from LJ inviting me to join the Imagine Cup meeting. Was conveniently at Mark's so I could ride with him in Erwin's car. Bought KFC takeout for a quick lunch for all of us.
An unbelievable number of traffic blunders happened to us along the way. First, we went above the underpass instead of under in Ayala, then again at Arnaiz. Then we had to swerve to the Baclaran lane at the Magallanes interchange at the last second, and lo! a traffic enforcer swoops down on us. It was a long discussion with the officer, and ends with a calling card being noticed and kind words of appeasement from the MMDA person.
We had quite a long-winded discussion at Carl's Jr. along Taft. Frankly not really much progress, but some work division was framed up, enough for Erwin and Mark and LJ to work on specifics. Some more ideas about the smart question processing were tossed up, and again some clarifications on the whole project concept (we're not listing our software requirements and scope very well, are we).
Of note: drinks at Carl's Jr. are refillable, but only up to 1 hour after the order (receipt is timestamped, must be presented to claim refills.) Smart!
Had a Friday night out with Ranulf, Eric Sacha, and Amil. Eric showed us some new 3D stuff, and a cool CSI-like case involving a U-turn traffic accident on Katipunan, solved with 3D car modeling! With a devious defendant as perfect antagonist. Spiderman on Playstation in the DISCS faculty was pretty neat. Hanged out in Mocha Blends in Katipunan until late in the evening.
Some reflections on the past few months.
Had a BP lunch out again, this time at Jack's Loft. We had a queer discussion on deviant behavior in anime (the affectionate "Ban-chan!" is supposed to connote something, according to Amil.)
This was quite fun. Too bad Joey wasn't able to join us. I suggested Omakase near Pizza Hut. Kaufman and Jo-anne joined us.
Kaufman told us about a funny adventure in diving, how he had to swim against a strong current, and how he was swimming alongside similarly struggling fish just barely holding their position against the stream (furiously wriggling motion of stationary hand).
We talked about Taiwan elections, some of the election shenanigans here, about F4 (we know them better than Ho-ming!) Some slight teasing about me and Julie being our OJT Rex's foster guardians. Maybe Rex and Julie didn't quite agree with the medium-rare teppanyaki, but it was a satisfactory meal with lively conversation.
Of course I had to go back to the office. Release build!
Ho-ming was going back to TW the next day. Some final talk between Kaufman and Ho-ming. Some complements again about me from K. Really, I need a better challenge in that area.
He's my current PM for the Intranet project. Finally he gets around to visiting us in PH! He arrived Monday afternoon.
We ate the snacks I brought. Pineapple pie was ok, though kalamay tasted a bit odd.
Tuesday: lunch out at Dencio's. We were discussing about digital cameras with Ico. Ho-ming's got a more high-end model, though it's not as portable. I guess mine is just the right type for my needs -- mid-quality, handy enough for lugging it around the Metro and clicking away on stray animals, MRT security guards and whatnot. Ico still hasn't picked what digicam she's getting at this point. Then of course a recap of the good stuff in Taiwan, such as cheap electronics and stinky tofu.
Wednesday (or Thursday)?: had lunch at Chicken Inasal. Showed him the goodness of buko pandan! We got to talk about some of the fun stuff they have in TW, like air hockey, arcade basketball and tai-chi sessions. Some ideas for Welfare, or whatever form of it we have these days...
I had dinner with Ho-ming, and he got to talk about:
- His early days in the U.S., in Seattle
- How he joined Trend (Jeremy interviewed him, as I remembered)
- He told me about going back to Taiwan because he had the company of friends
- About his group of friends who would meet up with and drive around Taiwan
- About being a family man
So he's not a distant voice on the teleconference number anymore. :-)
Oh yeah, about work...
We got to discuss the current project situation, some IT concerns, a mention of the upcoming TW requirements. Ho-ming also had to work hard and stay up late, for our beta demo to our content providers. He was quite professional with coming up with the supporting slides. I feel though that this task needs to be professionalized more -- PM's need not do documentation work if not necessary.
Had nice Sunday lunch again with family at Katipunan area. Mom helped me shop at Rustan's for native delicacies for a visitor from TW arriving the next day. Picked pineapple pie and ube kalamay.
How can I forget those Windows Entertainment Pack games? I spent time with Chip's Challenge first. I got around to level 60-something, then I quit. Then I settled with Klotski, got to finish all of the puzzles except the last 1 in a sitting or two. Final puzzle was really hellish. I finished after 4 hours, early Sunday morning. That took 14667 moves.
Klotski, being of Polish (or other Eastern European) origin gives these quirky congratulations messages when you finish a level. Such as "How did you do that, Jerome" and "Do you know the secret, Jerome?" Anyways, I have a pic of completing the last level, for posterity.
Tried some of the other games too like Skifree, Fuji Golf, and Rattler Race. Goofy.
Somehow lost interest in WEP afterwards. Maybe when I get really bored again.
Couldn't be there (shucks) but Ate and Gerry got wonderful pics from Tinsel's graduation party at Kid's Play Camp. Entire family had fun watching the Hawaiian dances.
I slept at Mark's place for the evening, was working really late. I treated him to Dunkin Donuts for breakfast, had discussion about his Web site, some notes on DHTML etc. He met project groupmates there too. He then had me out of his pad as soon as they got started on their project since it was quite a crowd already. Of note, Mark already had most of their.NET and MS Access sports tournament scheduling program running. Making good use of my location, off I went to U.P. for a long detour before going home.
Had great fun going around U.P. to get pics. I went into the park area in front of the U.P. Library, hadn't gone there before ever. Some students practicing theater there. Went by Sel's place at Bahay ng Alumni, she wasn't there on weekends apparently (aww.) Also passed by College of Music. And finally got a shot of Oblation! Was really hot by then. Frankly Oblation only looks good from the front (to Peyups pipol: the Blue Eagle isn't really much either -- more of the symbolism, really).
Met Orland and his girlfriend. Had lunch at Engineering cafeteria, with strange turon w/ cheese item for dessert.
Had some shots of ROTC or whatever they call it nowadays. Mostly women for officers. Strange, but given the same demographic from Pisay COCC, am not surprised. Kept on picturing weird things like the yellow barricades, random shots inside CHE, and finally the skeletons of the waiting sheds under construction.
Had some playtime with Anton and Tinsel for the rest of the day.
We just felt like having a special treat this day. Went with Amil, Maureen and Ico for Sushiya. Discussed about how great the Great Plains office was. I hope to be able to have the same for Trend (hey it's BP's opportunity to make it a great thing here.)
Had the shiitake tempura which I liked, and tuna sashimi. It was a bit strange and conscience-bothering to splurge on a Lent Friday. Highlight was the "Parking Space for Sushiya COSTUMER Only". We also talked about the word "easement" (strange I remember this obscure detail.)
Told my sis of my wild idea to go to Luneta to take pics. She agreed it was a great idea. So I just stepped out somewhere along España. Bought some melon candy, and asked the old lady vendor how to get to Luneta.
Turned out to be just one jeep ride. A few minutes later, I was in a jeep's driver's cab, sucking at a melon drop, clicking away at my camera as it sped towards Quiapo Church.
My first stop was Kilometer 0, where all distances from Manila to other parts of the country are measured. Right across was the giant flagpole and our proud flag welcoming all the promdi visitors to Luneta park. Sure enough, after crossing the wide pedestrian lane, I met a couple of ladies posing for pictures. Not far behind was the picture perfect Rizal monument, backed by a cloudless noon sky. Click click click...
Toured the different gardens (nice greenery, though could be maintained better; the occasional garbage strewn by picknickers leads to reflections on how Filipinos really value parks over malls.) Interesting fact: a lot of students seem to use these parks for rehearsals for school presentations.
I also saw a LOT of pigeons. They were being kept in a couple of birdhouses in a small section of the park.
I ate at Jollibee, delightfully cool. Was thinking how people went without Jollibee back then. While doing so, I forgot it was Ash Wednesday and ordered spaghetti. Anyways, continued thinking about how homogenized food and leisure has become. Fastfood and malls. More on this in a separate blog.
Was thinking of going to Intramuros, but my mom rang me and told me how crazy I was walking alone in Luneta in broad daylight (was not yet 2 PM at the time.) Contrite, I took a jeep home, but took my time to get a couple more pictures.
Sis takes me to Tita Lita's house. Played with Tinsel and her cousins, running around the lounge room. I then went to Ash Wednesday's mass with Tita Lita and Billy and cousin Arlene.
Strange, the priest presided the mass at Sto. Domingo at one of the side altars. Then my cousin told me about the strange suicide the other day inside the church itself. As a result, the church was desecrated and only by a special disposition from the Diocese of Cubao were they allowed to even hold this important mass. Afterwards the church would be closed until reconsecrated through the proper rites.
I went with them to their small hairdressing business in Tondo, where my sis picked me up.